“The Ethics and Psychology of Hobbes’ Leviathan”

Zach Steveson Presents:

Ethics: the consequences from the passions of men… how can we deal with the problem that is human nature?

Human nature: all of us are equal… no one is so strong that they couldn’t be murdered in their sleep by their enemies… this is what life would like if there were no state, everyone would kill everyone… if there were no state there would be no society, no houses, no philosophy. In order to avoid this terrible state of life, we give up our freedom, the Leviathon, so we can all live in peace.

Challenges: does the state of nature exist? Did it ever exist in our history?

Contract Theory: all political systems are created by contract. Everyone agrees by this and there is a nation. Similar to Rawls, Locke, and Kant.

Hegel’s criticism of Hobbes: we normally have loyalties to family and other people… so why wouldn’t there by any other structures than this atomistic war… Hegel says how would we even have the rationality to agree to this way of getting out of the state of nature…

Interlocutor 1: state of nature… not just for humans… what gives him the right to think that there were no states… is there any anthropological source for this?

Interlocutor 2: does he mean to give an anthropological account?

Interlocutor 3: Hobbes was trying to build the foundations for political thought… he believes

Interlocutor 4:
he thinks that Hobbes account of the state of nature was an account of what it would be
“let him therefore consider himself, and arms himself, and going to sleep, and even in his house he locks” there is a subconscious fear of our state of nature…

Interlocutor 1: going back to a state of nature… there are societies that are stateless… take Tibet. Before the Chinese invaded, they were stateless… there was an economy…

Interlocutor 4: not an actual state of nature where people are killing… it is the suspicion of other people being able to steal, or even something small

Interlocutor 1: there is no guarantee that the state can protect you… it can mitigate some of the risk, but never absolutely. Is it worth the risk of giving up our rights?

Interlocutor 2: considering state of nature as compared to Euclid’s geometry. It seems as though Hobbes state of nature is based on assumptions that are unlike those of geometry or mathematics in that he uses the ‘state of nature’, an assumption that has no verifiable basis but is also not a priori. It seems that his reasoning for the foundation for the Leviathon is circular.

Interlocutor 3: social contract… is it supposed to be implicit or something we have engaged in? no one asked me if I wanted to become a part of this great nation.

Interlocutor 1: once you grow up in this system, you have no chance to ask yourself if you can even get out of it. When you are born you are indoctrinated into the system and you lose the ability to negotiate it and it becomes necessarily a part of you.

Interlocutor 2: in real life, it is implicit. If you are willing to engage in thought of nature thought experiments… once you get to that point it is something explicit.

Interlocutor 4:
it is implicit that we gave up our rights, but we explicitly demonstrate our believe in the social contract everyday. When someone throws a brick through your window you don’t chase after them, you call the police. That is consent.

Interlocutor 1: do we have the option to opt out of the state?

Interlocutor 5: if it is impossible to opt of the social contract? Is it also possible to agree to it?

Interlocutor 5: so we aren’t convinced that there ever was anything like a state of nature… if the government were to disappear we would end up in a state of nature in a couple of hours. If this is the case, then we might have some sort of circularity… the state of nature would be our axiom and the necessity of government would be the theorem… but is there some sort of empirical connection… he is deriving the state of nature from human psychology…

Interlocutor 2:
state of ‘human’ nature versus state of nature… if Hobbes were trying to describe how people lived, versus how people are…

Interlocutor 4: can’t escape the state of nature.. the best we can do is it suppress it… one of the fundamental wrinkle in ethics is we want to do this bad stuff… it is always there to some extent. The words good and bad are incoherent in the state of nature. One can just do whatever they want… there is no common power, no common law… no justice

Interlocutor 3:
that which we desire, we call good. And that which we fear, we call bad… we only pragmatically do what is best for us… note: before this was written, there were no nation-states… but now 99% of all people are governed by states…

Interlocutor 4: talks about when you are allowed to abandon the state… if a man is being charged by the state one has the right to self-preservation… if the state threatens your existence then you have the right to fight back

Interlocutor 6: proportion of size of government to the proportion of people…

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